Born to Be Wild

Bride For a Night

If I Can't Have You

Looking For a Hero

Till The End of Time

Wife For a Day

 
Something Wild by Patti Berg
(Avon, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-380-81683-0
****
Charity Wilde is a struggling Las Vegas showgirl, with the dream of stardom her sole objective. After being fired from her current show, she decides to accept her sister-in-law’s invitation to a family get-together at the Remington Ranch in the wilds of Wyoming.

Remington Ranch manager Mike Flynn, who is also the local preacher, refuses to be attracted to the stunning showgirl, even though it’s been six years since the death of his wife, Jessie. Mike has never been able to escape the overwhelming guilt of having to make the decision to turn off Jessie’s life support. As a preacher, he cannot live with the thought that he made a choice only God should make. He’s shielded his heart ever since.

Instead, Mike turns his focus to Satan, a wild mustang who has been a thorn in Mike’s side for years. Satan is responsible for the release of two of Remington Ranch’s prize mares and Mike is determined to capture the mustang, once and for all. What Mike hadn’t factored into the equation is Charity’s determination to guard the horse’s freedom.

Charity is fascinated by Satan from the start and the horse seems to be drawn to her, as well. She’s determined to do everything in her power to keep Mike from tracking the mustang down. Even if it means sticking like glue to the handsome preacher.

With Charity shadowing Mike’s every move it becomes increasingly difficult for the pair to resist their growing attraction. But they both know there’s little chance of a relationship when Charity’s sights are set on stardom on the Las Vegas stage and both refuse to have a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

I had almost a schizophrenic relationship with this book. Part of the book, particularly the final third, was riveting. But other parts, especially the first third, were irritating enough to make me wish I could put the book down. Which I may very well have done if I hadn’t been reading it for review. The characters are richly drawn at some points, yet vague enough to have me scratching my head in other scenes.

Charity’s childhood as the defiant daughter of a fire-and-brimstone preacher made her hesitancy in becoming involved with a man of the cloth understandable. The fact that she was a 25-year-old virgin working as a Las Vegas showgirl seemed a bit unbelievable, yet it made the scene when Charity and Mike finally came together incredibly touching. Her single-minded determination to be a star at all costs, even if it meant the end of her relationship with Mike, also seemed completely in character.

Yet, I couldn’t understand why, at the start of the book, she felt competent enough to jump on the back of a wild horse and even consider taking a job as a horse trainer, when she admits her entire experience with horses stemmed from a few days at camp.

Mike’s portrayal as a preacher was particularly hazy. He’s featured in most of the book as a muscle-bound cowboy, we rarely see him in his role as preacher. It certainly would be different and more interesting if the author put greater emphasis on the difficulties of a relationship between a preacher and a showgirl. The only scene featuring the couple in a state of dishabille encountering a disapproving member of Mike’s congregation was a stand-out.

With the exception of a shaky start and some questions in characterization, Something Wild was an enjoyable read and one fans of the author certainly won't want to miss.

--Karen Lynch


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